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Why Do Dogs Get Tear Stains Under Their Eyes?

3 minutes
Why Do Dogs Get Tear Stains Under Their Eyes?
Last update: 18 May, 2018

Constant tearing causes an obstruction in your dog’s tear ducts, which in effect produces drainage and creates tear stains under your dog’s eyes. This can take place due to aging, allergies, infections, and genetics.

It’s common to see dogs with tear stains.  You may have realized that your pet didn’t have any when he was a puppy, but suddenly they appeared. Why do they exist? Can you remove them? Let’s find out the answer to this and to other mysterious questions.

Why do dogs have tear stains under their eyes


Constant tearing is the main cause of tear stains under the eyes. This can be caused by an obstruction in the tear ducts. Many breeds have obstructed tear ducts at birth. Usually, liquid builds up inside the eyes and it eventually drains externally.  This tear duct problem causes an animal’s eyes to water and the constant dripping of tears is what causes the stains under the eyes.


Allergies are another major cause of tear stains. They may originate from the skin, diet, or other reasons. An allergy always causes the eyes to swell and tear, which in turn produces tear stains.


If your dog has an eye infection, it may provoke a discharge and tearing which also causes tear stains under a dog’s eyes. It might look like an infection, but it’s possible that your dog has something in his eye bothering him. Check his eyes carefully. Don’t touch it if it looks severe, it’s better to seek medical attention.

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As puppies grow, their tears become more acidic, which enhance the light red stains under the eyes. Likewise, this is even more common in older dogs because their eyes clog more often.


Some breeds have a tendency to be born with clogged tear ducts or small eyelids. This will cause the dog to blink too hard and prevent proper tearing. On the other hand, some breeds have a lot of hair around their eyes. The hair can enter the eyeball and cause constant tearing, which creates those annoying stains.

What to do if your dog has tear stains under his eyes

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There are several things you can do if your dog has stains under his eyes. The following are some examples:

  • Clean the area. Cleaning the area under your dog’s eyes daily will be the best way to prevent the acid within the tears from building up. By doing this, these stains will disappear eventually. Although, using a wet gauze pad is enough, you could occasionally use a little hydrogen peroxide. Just be very careful not to have any contact with the eyes.
  • Trim the hair around the eyes. Trimming down the hair around the eyes of some breeds is the best way to prevent these stains. Of course, you could start trimming if cleaning the stains didn’t work. You can trim the excess hair little by little until the area returns to its original color.
  • Change the food and water dishes. Sometime people are unaware of their dogs having plastic allergies. If you haven’t found any other reason why your dog tears, this may be the reason. Change the containers your dog eats and drinks from to stainless steel bowls, and wait to see if he stops tearing.
  • Use filtered water. Sometimes we forget that tap water can cause the same damage to our pets as it does to us. Try to give him filtered or purified water so he will not have excess minerals in his body. This will decrease his tearing.

Another way you can clean your dog’s eye area daily is by using a homemade water and sea salt solution. This will decrease the stains’ intensity. If you are patient, you can get rid of them completely. Good luck!

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Meneses, M. C., & Serna, M. (2002). Tratamiento para el conducto nasolacrimal obstruido. Veterinaria (Montevideo), 37(146), 17-19.
  • Camps Rabadà, J. (2011). Perro, blanco con manchas oscuras, pintado en el sarcófago de Khui. Egipto hace 4.000 años. Recuperado el 21 de enero de 2022, disponible en: https://ddd.uab.cat/pub/estudis/2011/123784/jcampsapu_154.pdf.


This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.